Article

Epilepsy-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among Zambian police officers

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Lusaka, Zambia
Epilepsy & Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.06). 06/2007; 10(3):456-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2006.12.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In Zambia, where emergency medical services are very limited, the police are frequently called to the scene for unaccompanied people experiencing seizures or exhibiting disturbed behaviors during a seizure. Police officers receive no formal medical training to manage such encounters. We developed and administered a police-specific survey to assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) regarding epilepsy among police officers in Zambia.
In 2004, a 28-item KAP questionnaire that included queries specific to police encounters with seizures and epilepsy was developed and delivered to a random sample of 200 police officers stationed in Lusaka. Descriptive data were reviewed and open text questions postcoded and categorized.
The response rate was 87.5% (n=175). Police were familiar with epilepsy, with 85% having witnessed a seizure. Although 77.1% recognized epilepsy as a brain disorder, almost 20% blamed spirit possession, 13.9% associated epilepsy with witchcraft, and more than half the respondents believed epilepsy is contagious. When asked how they would treat someone brought in for disturbing the peace during a seizure, most police provided supportive or neutral responses, but 8% reported taking harmful actions (arrest, detain, handcuff, restrain), and 14.3% indicated that people with epilepsy in police custody require quarantine.
A significant number of police officers in Zambia lack critical knowledge regarding epilepsy and self-report detrimental actions toward people with seizures. In regions of the developing world where the police provide emergency medical services, police officers need to be a target for educational and social intervention programs.

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